HOW NFL PRO WINSTON JUSTICE THRIVES AS AN ATHLETE TURNED ENTREPRENEUR
May 21, 2020 | Courtesy of Authority Magazin via Medium
by Parveen Panwar
"Being present or being there fully with my wife and kids is pivotal in creating deep and thriving relationships in and outside the home. Sometimes they will get Dad, husband, or friend from work. I have also tried to voice how I am truly feeling, which leads to open sharing and vulnerability with other family members and friends."
Asa part of our series about how successful “athlete turned entrepreneurs” thrive both professionally and personally, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Winston Justice. Winston Justice is a Vice President based in Bernstein’s Nashville headquarters, serving as an asset manager to multigenerational families, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits. Viewing leadership as service, he is committed to being part of the creation process with his clients and walking with them through times of transition. Together with their team of professional advisors, Winston helps his clients build a legacy that transcends wealth. Before beginning his career in finance in 2015, Winston spent a decade in the NFL as an offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Winston! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up? I was born and raised in Long Beach, California. I grew up in a crowded household that included siblings, parents, grandparents and sometimes extended family. My parents are originally from Barbados. I spent most of my childhood on my bike, riding around the neighborhood, getting into trouble, and playing pick-up basketball at the local parks in between. I found friendship, food (park lunches), and my appreciation for athletics when I was a kid at the parks. Growing up in Long Beach was an extremely unique culture. I originally thought I was going to be a basketball player, and I actually didn’t start playing football until my Junior year of high school.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high-level professional athlete? Jerry Jaso was the Long Beach Poly football coach. He was persistent on inviting me to play football year after year. He saw something in me I didn’t see. Going to the park and watching and eventually playing with guys there inspired me to become a better athlete as well.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or toke away did you learn from that?
My first couple years in the league, I had the hardest time getting the silent count down. Meaning, during away games, we didn’t go off of the cadence of the quarterback, but we went to the movement of the center. This change led to one of the worst games I have ever played. I was beaten out over a dozen times. Ever since that game, I decided I would never get beat like that again. I did of course get beat again, just never that badly.
My second mistake is that I did not make it a point to invest in relationships with my teammates. After you leave the game, it is extremely hard to make those connections again. At the same time, those are guys you went through so much with. I make it a point not to take any relationship for granted.
Did you ever get a serious sports injury? Do you feel comfortable sharing that story? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that incident? I had a lot. The biggest injury was my knee. The strength my football game was my speed and quickness. I wasn’t that good at playing hurt but had to learn if I wanted to say in the game.
As someone with a background in ’wellness’ I’m interested in stories about interesting wellness experiences. Do you have a story about the weirdest or most humorous wellness experience, treatment, practice, or practitioner thot you‘ve ever partaken in? If you do, we’d love to hear it. My wife and I enjoy working out together and back in 2009, we started to go on work out vocations together. We will leave our three kids with her parents and just get away to be together and focus on us. This past year, we went to Lake Austin, where we could train for a couple days while we explored a new city. We decided to go kayaking one day. Little did I know there was a weight limit and my kayak started to sink. The lodge had huge window in the dining area, so everyone could see me in this kayak. So, as I started to sink, all of the guests, workers, visitors, and local joggers stopped to watch a 330lbs offensive lineman sink.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful businessperson?
I always thought I was going to get cut, and I knew that eventually football was going to end. I was fearful that football was going to be the peak of my life. I wanted to contribute more to society then just football.
During my time with the Eagles, I become intrigued with private and public investing and started to research avenues of getting into this sector while I was playing. I started to become a student of public in private markets, reaching out to any CEO or ex-player that had experience in the different fields I was interested in. I started a small VC fund while I was playing with Eagles. It was a great experience, but it caused my efforts to be focused on the public markets. I believed that my temperament was more suited for sure bets in the market with more data to base a decision on.
My first opportunity in the public market space was with Wells Fargo managing a long-only portfolio that we sold internally to financial advisors on the Wells Fargo platform. It was also a great experience! With the group at Wells Fargo we managed over $3 billion.
I transitioned from Wells Fargo to managing a multi-strategy alternative portfolio for a firm based in California called Pacific Income Advisors. That was also a great opportunity, but I wanted to do something that created a bigger impact. I wanted to combine finance, people, and community and help build a legacy within that community. I was recruited by an awesome group at Bernstein Private Wealth, which is where I currently work now. We specialize in managing portfolios for endowments, family offices, independent investment advisors and business owners. (Some athletes and entertainers sprinkled in). This opportunity allows me to use finance to help people I care about create a lasting legacy and make the wealth they created meaningful.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now?
I am fascinated with combining or using finance in the nonprofit space. Over the past year or so, our focus has been on working with endowments locally in Nashville and across the nation. This allows me to combine my knowledge of finance, research, and economics, and apply them to create financial sustainability for nonprofits. I truly get to be part of something that is bigger than myself or even the firm.
Also, we are opening up our 6th Elixr coffee shop in Nashville in the middle of o pandemic. Extremely turbulent times.
Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or example about that?
Yes, in some cases. Of course, you can’t walk into a meeting and start pass rushing the opposition. I have found that using honest feed bock is the way you build up your team and not tear it down, which is something it have adopted in my career after football.
Pete Carol said to me on the first day of camp, “there are no mistakes, just opportunities to get better.” There is opportunity to get better from the bad games and the good ones. We as a team need to find every opportunity to improve and grow personally and as a group.
Most athletes have not been able to transfer their success from the sports arena to the business arena. But you have. Can you share with our readers three main strategies you have used to help you succeed?
I think the first part of this question is changing. I believe the modern athlete is savvier and more strategic toward investing. Most people find some identity in what they do. Asking an athlete to stop being an athlete is like telling a doctor he couldn’t be a doctor anymore after 20 years of practicing. They are going to create some problems, which ends up being amplified on ESPN or TMZ.
My early mentors always urged me to surround myself with the right type of people. Mentors I could learn from and grow with that didn’t need anything from me financially. I happen to be surrounded by great mentors and got some great opportunities early in my career after football.
In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)
I start off every morning with prayer, meditations and then a workout. While playing, I got used to starting my day with a workout. I kept the same routine even after sports.
Finally, can you share with us two routines that use to help your heart, your emotional or spiritual life to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)
Throughout the day, I attempt to be present and grateful. I could spend a lot of time getting worried about the future or regretting the past, but then I miss out on what God has put in front of me in the present. Even in the mundane actives, I am almost never bored, there is always something you could learn or grow from.
You’re a high achieving business leader, and you also have family and loved ones that may require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the executive at the door, and be the most loving family member at home?
Being present or being there fully with my wife and kids is pivotal in creating deep and thriving relationships in and outside the home. Sometimes they will get Dad, husband, or friend from work. I have also tried to voice how I am truly feeling, which leads to open sharing and vulnerability with other family members and friends.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Responsible investing! Consumers have the ability to improve the world we live in through the business.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Pete Carol told me during my first Training camp at USC, “There are no mistakes, only opportunities to improve. With the good plays and the bad one.” I approach every opportunity in life as an opportunity to improve and to exhibit true expression through what I am blessed to do.
There is also a quote by Viktor Frankl that has always stuck with me from the book, Man Searching for Meaning. In the 1940’s he was a prisoner that survived Nazi concentration camps. His quote is, “Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.” I attempt to always stay connected to the purpose, or the “why” when I am doing something. Especially in the everyday activities of life.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Some of the biggest changes in life occurs when you are facing impossible odds. You are forced to change and evolve.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!